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Summary: Lent is coming! Lent is coming! Why do we have Lent? Why do some observe this ritual while others do not? How do we discern which rituals are beneficial and which are harmful to our walk with the Lord? To Lent or not to Lent, that is the question!

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Please stand with me as we read our recent memory Scripture together!

John 1:1-4 NIV

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

“Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.”

And then we have our memory refresher verse which says …

2 Timothy 2:15

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the Word of Truth.”

You may be seated. What wonderful Scriptures. Don’t you love the words of God Himself found in the Bible? We have now memorized a total of 21 Scriptures containing 49 verses. As I look back at these Scriptures it reminds me of a person who adores someone much greater than themselves and how they cling to their every word.

Is that how we are with God and His Holy Word? We should be enraptured by the Lord. We should cling to His every word. In His Word is life. The Word enables us to recognize the truth.

Our God is a relationship God! Throughout the OT He pursued His people with great intent! “I will be your God and you will be My people.” That was His great heartbeat! (Exodus 6:7, Jeremiah 7:23, 11:4 and 30:22, Ezekiel 36:28)

Take a look at Matthew 7:21-23 NIV (Please open your Bibles and follow along)

Take a look at Matthew 7:23 NIV

“Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

Our God continues to be a relationship God, but even more personal now.

What are the two greatest commandments?

Matthew 22:37-40

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.

“And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Love is a relationship word. Love is not just a feeling but an action as well.

Love requires a response. You can’t truly love someone and wish them harm. You can’t truly love someone and just ignore them as if they didn’t exist.

Love is a motivator.

We don’t obey God’s commands so that He will love us. He already proved His love for us by sending His only begotten, His One and Only Son, to show us the Father, to shed His blood for us, to die on a cross for us, to rise from the dead in triumph over sin and now to be our Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5) and our Advocate (1 John 2:1). And … He will come again for all of His children to take us to be with Him.

No, we don’t obey God’s commands so that He will love us or so that we will be saved; we obey His commands out of an overflowing gratitude for His great salvation. If we don’t obey His commands and we don’t love Him because disobedience is rebellion, rebellion is sin and sin brings death. Faith without works is dead, useless, unable to save. (James 2:20)

Face it! God love us and wants a relationship with us.

How is that relationship established? By Grace through Faith. Believing.

You can’t read the Gospel of John with out being smacked in the face over and over again!

In the NASB the word “believe” is used 81 times just in the Gospel of John. Eighty-one Times!!!

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 4:53 NASB

“So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him, ‘Your son lives’; and he himself believed and his whole household.”

John 6:35-36 NASB

“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe.”

John 8:24 NASB

“Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

OK. God is a relationship God. He desires a relationship with us but God won’t force an unwanted relationship upon us.

Sometimes we speak of Jesus as being our “personal Savior” and that can be confusing to someone who does not know what you’re talking about.

It’s not like, “He’s my Savior and you can’t have Him so leave Him alone!”

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